Election... A Fun Way to Teach to Little Learners

Are you gearing up for the upcoming election?  I'm not sure how excited I am about the REAL election but I am thrilled to share with you how my first graders will be learning the election process.  

We are going to begin the day after Halloween. I have already started setting up things around the room and the children are getting super excited! My comprehension strategy for the week is COMPARE & CONTRAST.  I tell you this because you will notice that we do it a lot.  

On Day 1 we read the mini book I wrote called "What is an Election?"  This introduces the children to the whole big idea.  After reading I tell the children that we will be holding our own election in the classroom.  We will be electing a class MASCOT.  I have two candidates, Freddy the Frog and Oscar the Dog.  We compare the two candidates using the Venn Diagram.  We are only comparing them on looks and what we know about frogs and dogs, no facts yet.  Finally on day 1 we register to vote.  I let them know that each morning when they come in, there will be something to vote on.  We will practice voting, tallying, counting, and choosing all week.  They get really excited about this. 


On Day 2 we learn about surveys.  I teach the children that this is an easy way to get to know your candidates.  We survey both Freddy and Oscar.  You can see my little cards above.  We fill out the survey together using the cards provided.  When we complete the compare and contrast page above.  I purposely made some of the answers the same and some different.    Finally, in writing I read "Otto Runs for President".  We write an opinion piece on who we would vote for from the story.  It is a super cute book, perfect for elections.


Day 3 is probably the most fun day for the students.  In guided reading we read Grace for President.  We complete the digging deeper page and the Venn Diagram.  This is my first freebie at my store so make sure to grab it Here!
Next we learn about making a campaign.  We draw paper strips to see who will make a campaign for Oscar and who will do Freddy's campaign.  Each group creates the animal craft and then writes fun rhyming campaigns on plain white paper.  They always turn out so cute.  We hang our campaign on the door when they are finished.


On day 4 we read, "My Teacher for President".  We again dig deeper and compare and contrast.  For our election process we learn about taking a poll.  We poll 10 classmates to see who is in the lead for our election.  Then we graph our results.


Plan for extra time on day 5!  This is the big day!  First we read, "Duck for President".  Since we have read all of the other duck stories by Doreen Cronin, I know my students are going to love this one.  We sequence this story in groups.  Then we hold our election.  We vote, find our winner and then celebrate.  I usually make cupcakes for my kiddos. I also made "I Voted" signs that I tape on them.  In addition, I snagged leftover 4th of July candy this year to have as a treat.  Finally, I read "If I were President". We use this book for writing.  We make these cute little kiddos and write about what we would do if we were president.

*If you decide to do this unit, keep track of the winners each year.  My students always ask.  I tell them each year who has won the most in our classroom.  

Here is a photo of my supply cabinet.  It is normally covered in curtains, which I kept up, but I added streamers. Inside I put the ballot for the day.  They cast their vote and put it in the voting box inside.  Super Secret!!


Here are my little daily ballots, some word work activities, and my word wall that I  keep up!  


I am VERY excited to start unit with my children.  I will be blogging about it as we go too!



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Spookley the Square Pumpkin and a Little Surprise!

It is funny how sometimes in life things come full circle.  My twelve year old triplets loved Spookley the Square Pumpkin when they were little.  I remember reading it over and over again and watching the video numerous times.  
This year while planning, one of my team mates suggested we read this story.  We are currently teaching shapes and she enjoyed this book.  I was so excited to put something together for us and share this story with my class.  
However, after not reading it in a few years, and going through some changes in our life, it truly pulled at my heart strings.  I forgot what a great message this story had and how much it now holds a deep place in my heart with my own little square pumpkin, Charlie.  
After reading it today, I told my class that I wanted to make a text to self connection.  Right away hands went up and they knew how this book connected to my life on personal level.  Not only was I beyond thrilled that they understood what a text to self connection was, but I was even more thrilled that they knew exactly what I was going to share!  It warms my heart that they know me so well  and understand my little girl and how special she really is.  
So today at lunch I had to alter my packet and add a text to self page. This page is devoted to my little pumpkin, Charlie!


On a different note, we had fun today splitting up into different groups and working on different activities.  I like to change things up a bit so it was a good change rather than us all doing the same thing.

Here are some of our pumpkins that we made.  I'm going to hang them on our classroom door with this cute little sign.

What ended up being a wonderful teaching day was also a sweet reminder of how being odd, special and rare is a true blessing in disguise!




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4 FUN ways to make learning fun in October!

Every month I try to add fun things to my different rotations around the room.  In October it is so hard not to get carried away!  There are so many great little treats out there, I kind of have to control myself.  My favorite stores to shop at for these goodies are Target, Meijers, & The Dollar Store.
One of our favorite things to do in word work is spell our words with stamps and play dough.  I just grabbed some fun Halloween play dough and target and we were off and running.  The orange tray is one of my favorite things to use from the dollar store.  It is perfect for centers.

In the classroom library, I load up my basket with fun Halloween stories.  I add loads of pointers~pencils and fingers.  We also have some batty glasses.  Another fun thing to do is put tea lights out.  The kids think it is pretty cool!
We also bring in our own flashlights for some night time reading!

Who doesn't love a little change of pace in math rotations?  I have gathered all the fun October erasers, bats, spiders, monsters, and candy I could find to change up the pace for our games. Here are some samples below.
If you would like to grab these black and white or color October No Prep Games CLICK HERE!

Writing is one of our very favorite places to be during Daily 5!  I try to vary the choices in this area to encourage inspiration and keep them engaged.  Their creativity never ceases to amaze me!

Here are a few of the things I do in this area.  I use Halloween straws to make books on the left with white paper.  I use fun tape to make flip books for the children to create their own booklets.  I use just plain old construction paper and writing lines to make both large and small books.  The BEST of all are the fun goodies we use for periods.  We glue pumpkins, glitter, bats, spiders, and eyeballs as our periods.  

I hope you were able to snag an idea or two. Happy Fall!







  

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Going Batty in First Grade!


One of my favorite times of year is the fall. I have a serious problem shopping at the stores because I want to buy everything for my classroom.  This year was no different.  In Ohio we have a store called Meijers.  It is a grocery store and more.  TROUBLE!  This year I found this adorable shirt and scarf.  Of course I had to buy both.  It was an investment for all of my future years to teaching.  Everyday I decided to wear something batty.  The kids enjoyed trying to find out what I was wearing.  I had to invade my husbands closet for a Batman shirt but other than that, I had it covered.  I wore these two goodies and I had a headband (I decided to spare you the picture) as well as some batty socks.  I love generating excitement in my students with the little things.  

This week our focus was on fact and opinion.  Of course we sang the fact and opinion song to learn the difference.  I decided to do a KWL chart instead of schema and new learning because we have done that chart numerous times this year already.  So we changed it up a bit.  I think my bat turned out pretty cute myself.  We added Learned facts each day.  Now this cute little chart is in my science center with all of my other bat goodies.  I like to make my center something we have already learned about so they are independent during my guided reading groups.  So next week they will do bat games, vocabulary, and all kinds of goodies in my science center.


Here are few of the featured books we read this week.  Two of my favorites are not pictured, "Bats" by Gail Gibbons and "Stellaluna" by Janell Cannon.  You can see we worked on fact and opinion each day.  One of my FAVORITE things to do in 1st grade is an anticipation guide.  A WHAT?  If you have never done one, it is a must.  All you need is non-fiction text and a template.  There are a few examples above, I will tell you how it works.  Before reading the book, you pass out the paper.  I have my students use a highlighter for this part, you can see it on the left side of the papers.  I read each statement and they have to predict if they think it is true or false on the "What I Think" side.  Why do I use highlighters??? So they don't change their answers.  It is so important for them to learn that it is ok to predict wrong.  So I STRESS that I will only be looking at the "What I Learned" side of the paper. Then we read the book. I tell them to raise their hand if they hear a fact from the anticipation guide. Then I stop and we discuss.  After reading the book we go back and I re-read the statements.  The students then circle the correct answer true or false.  They get super excited when they are right!    I'm not exaggerating when I tell you they LOVE this activity.

We did a lot of writing throughout the week too!  We wrote an opinion piece about being a bat. They had to choose if they would or would not want to be a bat.  We always do a prewriting activity which you can see above.  Then we take the prewriting and write about it.  If you look closely you can see my first grader checked off his prewriting as he added them to his story.  One of my favorite things to see.  I also took a photo of a a bat writing where I used highlighter to make the lines for one of my students.  Not everyone is the same writer.  So for this friend, we worked on one sentence at a time.  He dictated the sentence, I made the lines, then he wrote the sentence.  We did this 3 times and his story turned out great!  
When I model for my students most of the time I write in front of them. This week, I wrote one of my stories ahead of time on chart paper.  I taped it to the SMART board and we fixed all of my mistakes. I cut out little bats too and we glued them for periods.  They enjoyed this activity and LOVED telling me all the things I did wrong.
We also wrote Batty Similes and bats can, have, are... papers.  
Of course we had to read a little bat poetry so we worked on our Bat flip book.  I feel it is important, and it is one of our standards, to expose children to poetry. We worked on digging deeper into the poem, sequencing, rhyming, fill in the blank and illustrating. 
It wouldn't be a batty week of fun if we didn't wear our black and bring in flashlights.  We used them in the reading center and in small group guided reading.  So much fun.  I need to dig out my old ones and use them for the whole month.
Finally we did a few crafts this week.  Together we made the fun little paper crafts on the left.  With the help of my AMAZING parents, we made the sock bats on the right.  I had each child send in an old black sock.  This year I had a time slots and invited parents to come in to help make them.  They turned out so cute.  While they worked on the bats, I was able to meet with my small groups in guided reading and the students completed Daily 5.  It was a little crazy if you walked in my room but organized chaos!  I didn't have time to hang them yet but some of my teammates did so I took a picture of theirs hanging up. 
Speaking of teammates, mine are so creative and fun to work with. I wish that for all my fellow teachers.  Here are a few things they did in their room. We all did the hanging bats.  One teacher gave the children vampire teeth, took their picture and make bats.  Another teacher took normal pictures and made bats.  I think they all turned out great!
I hope you were able to gather a few ideas from this post.  Happy Fall!!







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Apple Week...Not sure how we got it all in!

 We had so much fun last week learning about apples and going to the apple orchard.  I can't wait to share it all with you!  
We kicked off the week with Johnny Appleseed's Birthday.  On this day, I asked that all students bring in 1-2 chopped up apples.  We put all of the apples in a crock pot first thing in the morning on high.  I added two cups of water, some cinnamon and sugar and let it go.  Not only did our classroom smell amazing, we got to enjoy this tasty treat before school let out! 
Our focus strategy for the week was SCHEMA.  We wanted the students to define schema, share their schema, and understand non-fiction.  First we wrote our schema on my comprehension pages.  Then we shared our ideas on our yellow apple chart.  Next we read all about Johnny Appleseed.  We wrote our new learning and moved our misconceptions.  Finally we wrote about Johnny and made him.  
On Tuesday we prepared for our big field trip the next day.  Focusing on schema again, we created our schema chart about apple orchards.  Then we read this fantastic story Day at the Apple Orchard by Megan Faulkner.  We learned all about what to expect.  We finished our apple chart and wrote some fun similes about apples.  The children love writing similes.  I secretly love hearing their ideas. They are so creative.
The fun didn't end there, we had to make our apple shirts.  This was a tradition the school I teach at has been doing for years, I take no credit for this one!  The children did a great job and they are precious.  This year I thought I would get a little CRAZY and do apple prints for 10 Apples up on Top too! Why not???  I was EXHAUSTED by the end of the day!

On Wednesday it was off to the apple orchard!  We saw how apples are washed, sorted, and stored.  Then we watched them make cider using a press.  After that we watched the donuts being made.  BONUS... we got to eat a donut and drink cider.  Unfortunately it was raining but we made the best of it.  As soon as the rain stopped, we headed off on a hay ride into the orchard.  We picked apples and I got a sunflower to take back to my classroom.  We had a sack lunch and headed back to school. I was super thankful I though to bring extra socks and shoes....I was soaked.  Extra thankful that my kiddos had slippers to change into as well.  They put them on and we reflected on all the fun we had by writing about our day!  
On Thursday we explored the apple life cycle.  I wrote a mini book that takes the students through the life cycle of an apple. After reading it, they sequence the apple cycle.  There is also an interactive life cycle that I keep in the science center for them to practice.
Finally on Friday it was all about the APPLE.  We had apple schema going on and lots of great treats.  We graphed our favorite apple color and read one of my favorite books, Apples by Gail Gibbons.  My students love doing the anticipation guide shown below.  You can see that the left is highlighted.  Those are their "What I Think" predictions.  I don't want them to change their answers so we highlight them.  After reading the book, we do the "What I Learned" side.  Finally on the bottom we changed a false fact and made it true.  
Thanks to the great Science of September packet, we did a lot of apple tasting.   Then we graphed our class results.
We also enjoyed our week in our science center.  It was filled with new goodies from Science of September and old goodies that I have made in the past.  
Finally we completed our poetry flip book on apples.  The students are beginning to get the hang of this and it will soon be a rotation in our afternoon session!
I am loving all the fun we are having this year and my students are already learning so much.  First graders are like little sponges!
Happy Fall!





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Down on the Farm with Doreen Cronin Stories


We had a great week reading Doreen Cronin's Farm stories.  Our focus for the week was text to text.  We were torn between these stories and the three little pigs.  We decided to change it up a bit and I'm so happy we did.  The students just love her silly stories with Farmer Brown.  
In my resources there are plenty of goodies to complete so we had to make some choices.  We decided on Monday to read "Click Clack Moo Cows that Type".  Since we couldn't compare text vs. text yet we reviewed beginning, middle and end and characters.  We also spent the day discussing farms and farm life in writing.

On Tuesday we learned about cows and made this cute little cow.  The udder is not part of my pattern but since we learned about the cow parts, the children wanted to add them.  I think they are so funny!
The children also surprised me by their excitement when I made this cow chart.  They were excited to see what they would be learning about the next day.

On Tuesday we read "Giggle, Giggle Quack".  We compared the two stories on this second day.

This worksheet is from my Comprehension Strategies packet.  We use it every week!
On this day we learned some fun pig facts too! We read my mini book and a few other fun pig books.

On Wednesday we read one of my favorites, Dooby, Dooby, Moo!  Thank goodness I have this one on audio. I can't sing and it is so much better on audio.    We picked our own story to compare it too.  It was interesting to see what stories they picked.  My favorite part was just sharing together.  Again, this worksheet came from my Comprehension Strategies.

 Then we learned about ducks, not exactly a farm animal but he is in all of the stories so we had to learn about him.

On of my teammates did the other craft in the packet, I think they turned out cute too!

On Thursday, we read "Thump, Quack, Moo.  We took a break from text to text and reviewed our other strategies.  

Finally we ended the week with Click, Quack, Peep!  This story I can definitely connect to an  text vs. self basis.  My child will never go to sleep!!! We made some fun sheep to go along with our facts.  
We also enjoyed a lot of farm activities from the Science of September.  I just love their ideas and the fact that it connects to things I'm already teaching.  Here is a little peek at our farm science center with some of their goodies!

I hope you got a few good ideas!


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